Thursday, August 11, 2011

Someone saved my life tonight...

Someone saved my life tonight

You're a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, fly high
-Elton John, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"

One year ago today, my son had open heart surgery. One year ago today, we celebrated the fact that he came through surgery without complication. One year ago today, I breathed a sigh of relief and said prayers of gratitude that he was going to be okay.

Little Rocky knows he's got to learn to fight big battles

Then one year ago tonight, my world turned upside down. To say that he nearly died simply doesn't do justice what happened to him that night. He died. His heart stopped beating on its own and he stopped breathing. For an hour and a half. His life was saved because some amazing doctors and nurses rushed to his side and pounded on his chest, performing CPR until he could be placed on life support. For over an hour and half. While Derek watched just a few feet away from the chaos.

The things I remember of that night are like photographs that can't be erased. Running onto the floor of his hospital, down to his room, the eerie quiet of a hospital in the middle of the night. I can still see through the window to his room as the charge nurse, Kim, did chest compressions. The nurse caring for the patient next door who brought me a warm blanket - I could pick her out of a lineup to this day even though she was never our nurse. The necklace that Dr. Barbara Jo was wearing with little baby shoes on it. The bags and bags of trash that housekeeping cleared out before they would let us in. As they unwrapped drug after drug and tool after tool and sterile instruments for surgery, all that stuff got tossed on the floor, and it was literally ankle deep all around the room. The blood, my baby's blood, spattered everywhere. The cap Dr. Hanna was wearing as he wheeled him off to the cath lab. The way Dr. Hanna took his cow lovey from me, rubbed it gently, and tucked it under Jay's arm. The desperate way I cried over and over again, "Dear God, please save him. Please help him." The heart-shaped tiles on the floor of the hall. I can see it all so clearly, as if I'm sitting here looking at it right now.

I'm told that the horror of that night will start to fade. It hasn't yet - in fact, I feel this pit in my stomach just writing about it and allowing myself to go there in my mind. I remember in snapshots, and I still have a whole album of those awful images. And they are as clear as can be. Time heals a lot of wounds. Anniversaries of impossibly hard days open those wounds back up again.

I'm told that he would remember nothing of it, and I believe that to be true. Maybe that's just because I want to believe it. Now, what he remembers is the playroom. And the Drexel Dragon. I'm thankful for that.

I wish I knew how to process what he went through - what we went through. I wish I understood miracles and why they happen sometimes. And why were were blessed with one. I won't pretend it's because I have some great faith or that I somehow deserve one. I wish that by telling our story, it made more sense to me. It doesn't. This world is full of chaos, and sometimes things just don't make sense. I wish that I could put into words the rainbow of emotions that I've felt this week. Anxiety, relief, gratitude, frustration, sadness, and joy - all wrapped up like a rubber band ball, tangled into layers. It's too much to understand, too much to describe.

Holding that sweet boy for the first time in weeks.

The last scar-free pic of his little chest - no wonder he woke up wanting to go swimming!

One step in the OT/PT/Speech journey back to where he is today

I cannot express how much the support of family, friends, church, and internet strangers meant to me during those first awful days and the long weeks that followed.


I am incredibly grateful for the way that you buoyed our spirits, cared for our physical needs, made sure we knew we were loved. I am incredibly grateful for the exceptional care we received at CHOP. But most of all, I'm incredibly grateful that we brought home a perfectly healthy, perfectly happy, perfectly perfect little boy. It is nothing short of a miracle.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Take it easy ...

Take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to take your stand
And take it easy
-The Eagles, Take it Easy

In the Financial Aid office, the weeks leading up to the start of the semester are - hmmmmm, how shall I put this nicely? - Awful. Horrific. Insanely busy. It's crazy the number of people who don't realize they need some assistance paying for college until the day the bill is due. It would be amusing if there weren't so many of them, and if so many of them weren't really, really unhappy. Dealing with unhappy people makes me unhappy. The really peeved people come out of the woodwork and all of the stuff that needed to happen before school starts suddenly has to happen RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. I've been bringing work home every night and working during naptime on weekends, and I'm still nowhere close to being caught up.

Today, my lack of superhuman working prowess finally caught up with me, and I was a straight up ball of nerves, stressed out and frustrated and overloaded. My neverending yet failing quest to be both Super Employee and Super Mom caught up with me, and I managed to convince myself that I was really having a heart attack. I halfway jokingly asked my coworker to take me to the emergency room. By the time 5:00 rolled around, I wanted nothing more than to come home to a glass of wine on the screened porch.

So I did. But then Jay came up with a better idea that's even more relaxing than wine. He pulled out the Yoga Pretzels cards that we borrowed from school.

My friend Lisa and I took an intro yoga class a couple of years back, and I loved it. It really did help me relax and ease some of my anxieties. And I hope that I can teach my kids some of those strategies: to breathe relaxation into your daily life, to move your body in ways that strengthen and heal, to spend time in quiet meditation, to recognize that your mind and your body are connected in ways modern medicine doesn't fully understand. But most of all, Jay thinks it's loads of fun.

(Don't you just love the robot PJ pants as manly yoga pants?!)

He does a pretty mean Down Dog if I do say so myself. His favorite is Elephant Breath, but we did just about all of the cards. And you know what? I feel more relaxed. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day - or maybe I'll just be able to deal with it a little better. My colleagues will just have to roll their eyes if they find me doing the Warrior behind my desk.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Love, Fresh out the oven...

...straight sugar lovin'
To the beat I love it, Hey
-Jennifer Lopez, "Fresh Out the Oven"

And the answer to the quiz post is...

Wait for it...

The song title gave it away, right....

An oven mitt - in the shape of broccoli!

I mean really, how could you NOT get that just by looking? While it's a little hard to tell, they had colored the cotton balls with green marker - or attempted to anyway. I think had they been more green, it might have been more broccoli-esque.

Now, I must admit that I was surprised at the creativity of your responses, dear readers. From bath mitt to cat hair remover to dish washing glove to hand puppet, this little masterpiece could be endlessly helpful.

But my favorite responses didn't always make their way to the comments (plus, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who actually reads them all) so I simply must share two. Dear reader K suggested that I should hold onto it until the 5th grade DARE program to "show the folly of overindulgence in alcoholic beverages." And really, Broccoli Mitt Man does appear to have had quite the drunken bachelor party night. In fact, he actually looks worse now because he lost an eye sometime between his arrival in our home and tonight.

But I nearly spit my coffee onto my keyboard laughing when my dear colleague L suggested that it was the love child offspring of:


Genius! Sheer genius. I do have some very funny friends. But I did say the prize would go to the first correct answer, so as entertaining as those replies were, I'm going to have to go with the closest to correct.

I must give props to Erica, who immediately commented on facebook that it was broccoli, and to Jeramie, who quickly assured his clueless wife that it was indeed an oven mitt. Like, duh.

And the very best part was that it came home with a disclaimer that we shouldn't ACTUALLY let him use it to take hot things out of the oven. Really? Why not?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If I had a million dollars...

(If I had a million dollars)
I would buy you some art
(a Picasso or a Garfunkel)
-Barenaked Ladies, "If I Had a Million Dollars"

Since having kids, my interest in home decor has changed significantly. I no longer have time to watch HGTV, and I consider Handy Manny tools to be appropriate living room accessories. But we did do something really cool in the decor department:

An art wall in our dining room!

We've been wanting a better way to display kid art. Old method (shoving the daycare treasures into a cabinet with no date, no organization, and certainly no identification to who produced said works) really just wasn't going to cut it for the long haul. On our last IKEA trip, we got a couple of things that help to showcase our little artists-in residence.

First came framing the painting that Jay and Luke did for Derek's birthday, a fine acrylic on newsprint done via q-tips. Nothing but high quality stuff here! It was supposed to be a surprise, but of course you-know-who decided he couldn't hold in the secret. One morning at breakfast, he whispered to Derek, "Daddy c'mere!" Derek leaned over and Jay pressed his little nose into his ear and said, "I've got a secret! We painted you a picture!" Surprise, surprise.

Anyway, it is a cool picture:

So cool, in fact, that we tricked my aunt into believing we'd actually bought it! (Of course, the scrawly JAY at the bottom kinda sorta gave it away.) Anyway, it's hanging in our entryway and it makes a nice little happy welcome when we come in the door now.

Then we got super fancy with our art display and hung curtain wires with little clips that are just perfect for rotating displays.

Clockwise from top left:

American flag, construction paper collage, JMF
Fish with painter's tape scales, JMF
Crayon on construction paper, LMF
Chalk masterpiece, LMF
"It Looks like an Angel," White paint smoosh, JMF
Red & Orange tempera paint, JMF
Green Monster, JMF
A Tornado, JMF (the scribbles got circular the week they talked about the weather at daycare!)

Such talent we have in this household! In all seriousness, I really do like having a place to show stuff for a little while and then change it out. We'd planned to put it in the hallway where it would be a much larger space for hanging more stuff. But our main hallway already has all of my black & white family photos, which I really love and had no intention of moving elsewhere. Plus, by putting the kid art front & center, you can actually see it!

Derek says that we should do like fancy restaurants do with their art - put a tiny price tag for some unreasonable amount in the corner of each one. Priceless, I say. Priceless.

So, I was really proud of the artistic talents of my little ones, when THIS came home from daycare:

What is it, you might ask? Well, dear readers, you tell me. First one to correctly identify what it is and what it's designed to be used for will win a signed Jay Foster original.
(This should be good.)